Caroliniana Columns
Newsletter of the University South Caroliniana Society
Spring 2001
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USC's Conservation Facility: Prepared for the New Century

It has been a year and a half since the University constructed the Library Annex and Conservation Facility. During that time, Head Conservator and Librarian for Preservation Services Holly Herro has taken great strides to establish the University Libraries Conservation Facility as one of the best in the Southeast. In order to assist Herro, the University recently hired Carol Crawford as Senior Conservator and Lab Director and Darrick Hart as Conservation and Preservation Specialist.

Graduate assistant Brian Fahey uses the humidification chamber and suction table to conserve pages from the Butler Family Scrapbook.The chamber of humidification and conservation - 14786 Bytes

The staff is currently developing a comprehensive program that will both establish the facility as a leader in conservation and preservation work and ensure the University's reputation as a respected institution of learning in the field of preservation services. The program's components include preserving and performing conservation treatments on valuable collections, establishing and maintaining a Graduate Internship in Library and Archival Preservation through the College of Library and Information Science, recruiting graduate student volunteers from a variety of colleges on campus, and applying for grant funding.

A collection of hinged "clamshell" boxes, for storage of fragile volumes.
clamshell boxes- 57880 Bytes
The department is involved in several ongoing projects to help preserve the collections throughout the University Libraries' holdings. One of the larger projects is the rehousing of valuable maps, photographs, and architectural drawings in protective polyester sleeves. This encapsulation process is a vital part of preserving an institution's holdings. The relatively simple process prolongs the life of the collection and saves the institution money. The department has also begun the production of more elaborate protective enclosures know as "clamshell" boxes. These custom-made enclosures that take up to four hours to construct provide excellent support and protection for particularly fragile rare books, journals, and diaries. To date, the department has produced more than 150 clamshell boxes for Thomas Cooper Library's Special Collections, the South Caroliniana Library, and the Music Library. In addition to these projects, Preservation Services has conserved items for Special Collections and is currently conserving the University's original charter for its chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

The Graduate Internship in Library and Archival Preservation is designed to instruct students in preservation theory and practices and to provide a basic introduction to conservation. The program consists of lectures and hands-on projects such as box-making, encapsulation, rehousing, and the preparation of fragile materials for relocation to off-site storage. The lab has acquired the services of several graduate student interns who assist Crawford in making polyester sleeves for books.

A conservator "float washing" the University's Phi Beta Kappa charter.
Bath for PBK Charter - 59012 Bytes
In addition to assistance from interns, the conservation facility has the services of graduate assistant Brian Fahey. The graduate assistantship is generously sponsored by the South Caroliniana Society. Currently, Fahey is assisting in the conservation of the Butler Family Scrapbook. Under the supervision of a conservator, Fahey will unbind the scrapbook and then neutralize the acid in each page using a buffering agent. After this process is completed, Fahey will humidify, flatten, and encapsulate each page; construct a post binding; and house the scrapbook in a clamshell box.

In addition to maintaining and supervising these projects, the department has been awarded a National Leadership Grant by the Institute of Museums and Library Services to fund a program entitled Preservation Training Initiative for Small Libraries and Museums in South Carolina. South Carolina conservators will utilize video broadcasts, Internet streaming, and face-to-face instruction to assist small local libraries, museums, and related organizations learn proper preservation and collection care techniques. This initiative will also help establish a statewide digital community dedicated to the development of sound preservation practices and quality collection maintenance. The initiative is a join venture developed by the Preservation Services Department, McKissick Museum, the College of Library and Information Science, and Distance Education and Instructional Services. The success of the project will have a significant impact on the state, and establish the University of South Carolina's conservation facility as one of the leading southeastern institutions in preservation services.

--Darrick Hart

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